karşılaşmalar / encounters: Canan Yücel Pekiçten and Rita Góbi

Two dancer-choreographers coming from different cultural backgrounds are given voice in this interview. Through their stories, we would like to gain an insight into the complex, yet enchanting world of contemporary dance and of the young women who are currently shaping the future of this art form. In spite of the geographical distance between the two artists, we may find some common points in their struggles, joy and inspirations.

How did your very first bond with dance form? Has it shifted since it became a profession for you?

Canan: I started dancing when I was six in a ballet school and spent more time dancing than my parents actually expected. My desire to dance has always been considered as a habit that should be broken, an addiction that I should recover from one day. It hasn’t happened so far.

Rita: Since my childhood, there has been a strong bond between me and movement. Realizing the power of the inner world, unfolding myself in it mattered more than words themselves. It felt light and I felt free. This cloudless game hasn’t changed so far.

Leaving behind the safe world of the school environment, what were the obstacles that you as a dancer had to face?

Canan: One of them is the lack of foundations in Turkey that individual artists can apply to. In the creation and production process you may find yourself alone since nobody asks for work from you, nobody pays you, there aren’t any deadlines. You do it just because you want to do it, it’s your inner need. Another obstacle is being a non-EU citizen. Although your art should know no borders, you need a visa to bring your art to foreign audiences.

Rita: Fortunately, at the Hungarian Dance Academy (Magyar Táncművészeti Főiskola) we had not been raised to get used to comfort, therefore the twists and turns of life did not surprise me. They just became more difficult over time. I have never liked the feeling of comfort itself, even my dance has always been about taking risks. I love challenges.

Gobi Rita
photo: Laszlo Kortvelyesi

What could help young artists to overcome such obstacles? Is there a “helping hand” that may stimulate and empower them at the beginning of their career path?

Canan: There are several institutions and foundations in Europe taking also non-EU artists under their wings. They support their creation process by providing residency, as well as contributing to a range of artistic researches. Kone Foundation in Finland, whose support I have also benefited from, is one of those.

Rita: Supporting the youngest generation is crucial; providing them with mentorship, references, giving them a chance. I remember myself at the beginning of my career path, I felt as if floating in a huge unknown universe. It took me a lot of effort to make myself part of it and build my connections. After that everything went smoothly.

What was the impulse for you not to stay only in the role of a dancer, but starting to sculpt your own pieces? What new doors did this transition open for you? 

Canan: I felt I have things to say and I’m thankful that I was able to do it. It would have made me sick if I had not been able to do it. 

Rita: For me dance and creation are inseparable. Improvising as a child, later choreographing, that’s when I felt the happiest.

How would you describe your creative process? 

Canan:  It takes hard work. A lot of thinking, experiencing, practicing; and loneliness. However, at the end of this hard creation process, to find moments that will satisfy you in each time you perform is a challenge.  For me, it is not easy to be in love with what I have created. I have the habit of victimizing myself with my creations.

Rita: For me, the whole life is a creative process, I create every day. When I try to unfold an idea, I just let the sprout of inspiration grow. I leave myself to my instincts and explore the meanings of what I have seen just at the end.

Canan Yucel Pekicten
photo: Paweł Wyszomirski

From your own repertoire and the enrollments, you have been part of so far which is the one with the most thrilling artistic experience for you?

Canan: Although there are several, I can give the example of my recent piece, “Der Zwerg” / “The Dwarf”. Besides a good balance and physicality, it requires a really good concentration, a good control of focus. There is always a risk of falling. It is very demanding.

Rita: The most exciting is what I am surrounded by right now. After a long retreat, a plenty of experience and research I feel something is maturing and that fills me with excitement.

Where do you want to see yourself in five years?

Canan: I see myself right in the moment, existing in the moment, feeling the wind of the movement.

Rita: The dance being freed from the language of words is an important memento for me since the very beginning. I would like to explore its possibilities.


Canan Yücel Pekiçten, dance artist, choreographer and lecturer from Istanbul, has participated in several collaborations and pieces of both local and international artists. She has presented her choreographic creations, including “My Motto” and “It’s OK!” on renowned international festivals. The year 2016 brought her the 1st prize of the 8th Gdansk Dance Festival in Poland for her short piece “Der Zwerg” / “The Dwarf”. “All about the Heart”, the artist’s last creation, will premiere in Gothenburg, Sweden this September and will continue on tour to New York in October this year. In 2017 she was selected as Cec ArtsLink Fellow and awarded with a residency in Movement Research, New York. http://www.cananyucelpekicten.com

Rita Góbi, born in Novi Sad – former Yugoslavia, started her dancing career in Pecs, Hungary. Since that time she has received acknowledgements both on national and international level, including the Prize for the best solo choreographer and dancer at Solo Dance Festival of Orkestika Foundation and the 1st prize at Solo&Duo Cologne Dance Festival with her piece “Don’t Fuss!”. In 2015 she received the Best Dance Performer Award in Hungarian Contemporary Dance Category and in 2017 the Special Award of the Festival 10 Sentidos in Valencia for for her solo dance “Volitant”. Gobi’s source of inspiration are personal stories, her unique style lies in the research of repetitive, miniature movements, in exploration of body parts moving separately. Her current collaboration with Ryuji Yamaguchi (Japan) will premiere in February 2018. http://www.gobirita.hu/eng/

Edit Bapcanyova, July 2017